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‘Walking Dead’ Sends Andrew Lincoln (and Rick Grimes) Off With Ratings Growth

Series lead’s exit pulls in AMC drama’s highest numbers since season premiere

Rick Grimes left “The Walking Dead” Sunday, and gave the show the parting gift of a little growth in Nielsen ratings.

In “Live + Same Day” data from Nielsen, the most recent installment of the AMC drama — which served as Andrew Lincoln’s exit from the long-running series — brought in 5.4 million total viewers, up 6 percent from last week’s episode. Episode 905 posted 2.7 million viewers among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, also up 6 percent from last week.

Those numbers bring “The Walking Dead” to its highest mark in both total viewers and the key demo in L+SD data since the Season 9 premiere last month.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s “Talking Dead” — which featured an interview with Lincoln and guests Scott Gimple, Melissa McBride and Yvette Nicole Brown — saw a significant lift in both total viewers (2.7 million, up 48 percent from the previous week) and the key demo (1.3 million, up 66 percent) over last week’s episode, according to L+SD data.

While this is modest ratings growth for the drama — which has seen a steady decline in Nielsen numbers in recent years — Lincoln’s exit was up against NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” “TWD” competed with a showdown between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers that ended up as the highest-rated NFL game of the season, with 23.7 million viewers and a 13.7 rating among adults 18-49.

“The Walking Dead”s goodbye to Rick (and Lincoln’s goodbye on “Talking Dead”) should see a decent lift when “Live + 3 Day” numbers come in later this week, as the show has been growing by around 50 percent in that metric this year, an increase over Season 8’s three-day rise.

The series remains cable’s No. 1 show and the No. 2 drama across all of television, behind only “This Is Us.”